‘Home’ Features Celebrity Voices and 3D, Little Else

GameStop, Inc.


I can’t think of better title for the latest Dreamworks animated feature other than its given title Home. As a title, what does Home indicate about the given story? Nothing. The title, like the film itself, is entirely nondescript and brief. Home is the kind of kids film that thinks by tossing some 3D and celebrity voices it can compensate for a lack of story and wit. More importantly, this is a kids film that doesn’t even seem to maintain any appeal to children, at least none of the children in our screening seemed to engage in any laughter.

Jim Parsons provides the voice of Oh, an alien of the Boov species. Oh is an outcast among the Boov and has trouble connecting with anyone. With the way Parsons voices Oh, it’s not entirely surprising that nobody would want to be around this character. He speaks in this high-pitched silly tone, like one you might think a clown would use to overcompensate their attempt to hide some inner darkness that the make-up just can’t obscure. Combined with the broken English that only gets more and more grating as it’s endlessly repeated, it becomes increasingly difficult to have anything but contempt for Oh and the man providing his voice.

When the Boov are threatened by their archnemesis the Gorg, they follow the orders of their leader Smek (voiced by Steve Martin), who orders them to occupy the planet Earth. In a bloodless and bubble-filled coup, the Boov relocate humanity to Australia, or as the Boov call it Happy Humans Land. Attempting to organize a housewarming party, Oh accidentally alerts the Gorg of the Boov’s location of Earth. Having always been just a rascally screw-up, Oh is now a fugitive in the Boov society. While on the lam, Oh encounters Tip (voiced by pop star Rihanna), a young girl who was somehow left behind in the Boov’s relocation plan. Now the two unlikely outcasts are on the run from the Boov. And, unsurprisingly, they have a number of ups and downs before realizing that they’re the best friends that ever friended anyone before.

While she may be one of the world’s biggest pop stars, Rihanna is not a voice actress. The sultry rasp in her voice doesn’t make for the most convincing young girl, nor is she particularly adept at conveying emotion. In case there wasn’t enough Rihanna for you, the soundtrack is crammed with about half-a-dozen of her greatest hits. In all seriousness, the biggest laugh I got out of the movie was when her character revealed that Tip is a nickname and her real name is Gratuity, thus Gratuity Tucci has removed Jupiter Jones from the top spot on this year’s list of silly movie names. Among another of Home’s odd little quirks is the bewildering casting of Jennifer Lopez as Gratuity’s mother. Another massive pop star is hired to voice maybe 2 minutes of screen time.

The biggest problem afflicting Home is that isn’t really funny on any level. Adapting Adam Rex’s book The True Meaning of Smekday (an infinitely more interesting title than Home, might I add), screenwriters Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember maybe squeeze out a line or two that hit over the 90-minute running time. This film really thinks it’s funny to repeat that the Boov don’t know how things are; each time Smek is onscreen he’s carrying an everyday item and misstating its purpose. To get an idea of Home’s sense of humor, there’s an extended scene where Gratuity and Oh discuss the interrupting cow variation of the “knock, knock” joke. I really doubt if the humor of Home would appeal to anyone over 5.

Home is the kind of movie that will fail to capture the attention of children because it talks down to them. It’s kind of condescending the manner with which they seem to think that 3D and celebrity voices are enough to capture a child’s attention for 90 minutes. Director Tim Johnson can’t turn Home into anything more than a candy-colored advertisement for Rihanna’s greatest hits. Right down to its unnecessary 3D, this is a film that falls flat in every aspect. Maybe the eventual straight-to-video sequel Home: Away will correct the errors of the first film.

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